the CNA report put it:
trying to assuage misgivings about the partyís stance on independence
for Taiwan, also said that the DPP is open to discussing the concept
of "one China" in cross-strait talks."
motive for caving in, at least for appearanceís sake, is no secret.
Not in Taiwan. The ROC public is seriously phobic about irresponsible
Taiwan independence bravado. The ROC public knows a unilateral
declaration of independence guarantees a shooting war with Beijing.
bottom line? The fanatically separatist DPP has been pulled inexorably
toward the center by their desire to garner votes from a public
which might trust the DPP to govern at the local level, but simply
does not believe the DPP is mature or responsible enough to govern
at the national level.
New Party cofounder and former legislator Wang Chien-hsuan has
patiently pointed out to the DPP again and again, the nominally
reformist DPP would have unseated the irredeemably corrupt KMT
years ago, if only it had the wisdom to forsake the pro-independence
plank in its party constitution.
DPP is finally, belatedly, grudgingly acknowledging something
which for them is a distasteful fact: Taiwan independence has
no market in Taiwan. Chen has been trumpeting his "xin zhong
jian lu xian" or "new centrist path" for the past
year, and moving steadily toward the center. Correction, Chen
has been making a public show of moving toward the center. Letís
not get carried away, after all.
much for all the sanctimonious hogwash from the Taiwan independence
elite and their richly-compensated apologists in our GOP Congress,
about Taiwan independence reflecting "the democratic aspirations
of the Taiwan people."
Lee Teng-huiís cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) alleges
"one country, two systems" formula Beijing has put forward
for reunification has no market in Taiwan. More than 70 percent
of Taiwanís citizens oppose the model, the MAC said.í
of course is patent nonsense. By the MACís own admission "...
over 80 percent of the people of Taiwan are in favor of maintaining
the status quo."
is the status quo? The status quo is a state of affairs under
which rival regimes governing the mainland and Taiwan regions
of China both define themselves as "China." The status
quo is a state of affairs under which both Beijing and Taipei
claim be the sole legitimate government of all of Chinaís sovereign
status quo ante already is, for all intents and purposes, "One
Country, Two Systems," although it may not be exactly what
Deng Xiaoping and his successor Jiang Zemin had in mind.
Taiwan independence elite, needless to say, dismisses these claims,
embodied in both the ROC and PRCís constitutions, as "unrealistic."
The counterintuitive reality is that given the peculiar historical
circumstances which have brought the two sides to their current
"Mexican Standoff," these "unrealistic" claims
are far more politically useful, and hence politically realistic
than any quixotic yearning for a cost-free, bloodless bid for
Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) further argues that "As
Beijing has not renounced the possible use of force against Taiwan...
those polled worry that direct transport links between the two
sides of the Taiwan Strait would adversely affect the islandís
security... [and hence] do not favor the unconditional opening
of direct transport links."
MAC, like Chen Shui-bian, is being disingenuous. The political
hacks infesting the MAC know full well the only reason Beijing
has not renounced, and is not about to renounce the use of force
against Taiwan, is that an elite minority of Taiwan separatists
wields power in Taipei. Absent an unambiguous and credible threat
of force from the mainland, this elite minority of Stockholm-syndromized,
Japanophile, Taiwan separatists would declare independence in
a heartbeat, and shortly afterwards, hand Taiwan over to Japan.
the potential for this separatist elite to sell out Chinaís sovereign
territory, Beijing would be perfectly content to concede the Taiwan
region enormous latitude, socially, economically, even politically.
about the so-called direct transport links? Links which if instituted
would purportedly "adversely affect the islandís security?"
those unfamiliar with the Alice-in-Wonderland aspects of Taiwanís
political culture, the "Three Links" refer to proposed
direct commercial air travel, maritime shipping and postal connections
between the island province of Taiwan and the mainland coastal
provinces. Currently ROC businessmen and tourists alike traveling
to and from the mainland must make money-wasting, and even more
importantly, time-wasting detours through Hongkong or foreign
youíre scratching your head wondering just how the hell direct
commercial airline flights to and from Taipei and Xiamen could
possibly constitute an adverse threat to the islandís security,
youíre not alone.
FEAR OF COMMUNISM
couple of years ago my father, although officially retired from
the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated as a senior
consultant in a strategy summit dedicated to the question of whether
to establish "Three Links."
from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance,
and a host of other ministries in attendance warmly endorsed the
links as an unambiguous win/win proposition.
this point however a frowning spokesman from the ROC National
rose to his feet and solemnly intoned, "But
what if a commercial airliner were to land at Chiang Kai-shek
International Airport, filled with PLA troops? What would we do
silence prevailed within the conference hall.
that moment Three Links died, stillborn.
case you think Iím making this up, Iím sorry to say Iím not. Such
is the intellectual level of political discourse in Taiwan today.
too many Taiwan independence fanatics are pathetically insular,
in the worst sense of the word. They are "jing di wah,"
or "well-bottom frogs," whose conception of the sky
is a round blue circle.
father told me afterwards he struggled unsuccessfully to think
of an appropriate comeback to the utterly moronic suggestion that
an invasion force might book passage on regularly scheduled commercial
suggested he should have proposed that ROC airport officials confront
the invading PLA troops with a phalanx of stern female immigration
officers. You know the kind Iím referring to. Theyíre identical
all over the world. Pear-shaped figures. Unmistakable hints of
moustaches. Picture East German prison camp wardesses. These fearsome
figures would each be issued lethal-looking rubber stamps reading,
"ENTRY REFUSED." Confronted with this intimidating array
of bulldykes, any PLA Company Commander worth his salt would surely
choose discretion as the better part of valor and order his men
back on the plane and beat a hasty retreat, all the way back to
father has assured me that if another ministerial level strategy
conference is convened heíll make ample use of my modest proposal.
mere six weeks remain before ROCís March 18, 2000 presidential
election. The latest polls suggest that former Taiwan Provincial
Governor James Soong is now back in the lead, albeit by the slimmest
of margins, over second place Chen Shui-bian, and by a somewhat
wider margin over Lee Teng-huiís hand-picked successor, Lien Chan.
this is ROC politics, where "ming yi ru liu shui," or
"public sentiment is like flowing water."
normal circumstances the upcoming ROC presidential election, involving
a total population (not voting population, mind you) of merely
22 million citizens, would hardly merit such intense international
scrutiny. But these are not normal circumstances.
most important bilateral international relationship in the 21st
Century is the relationship between America, the wealthiest and
militarily most powerful nation in the world, and China, the fastest-growing
economy and most populous nation in the world. Taiwan independence
is the single biggest stumbling block in the way of a peaceful
and harmonious relationship between these two global giants. Hence
the ROC election has assumed an importance far out of proportion
to its actual, intrinsic significance. Whether war breaks out
between America and China in the coming years may well be decided
at the polls in Taipei in six weeks.
us hope that ROC voters vote responsibly, by voting for any one
of the three reform candidates: Hsu Hsing-liang, Li Ao or James
Soong, and refusing to vote for either separatist fanatic Chen
Shui-bian or Lee Teng-huiís puppet, Lien Chan.
live in interesting times, and we shall see what we shall see.